Fresh. Young. Innovative. Part of the charm of Cinderella at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith is the diverse cast of often under represented actors. Written by Jude Christian and directed by Tinuke Craig, it is anything but a traditional pantomime. It adds a modern twist with its catchy tunes and inclusive messages of not conforming to societal stereotypes, inspiring young girls to believe that they can be so much more than a princess who hopes to meet Prince Charming.

However, the pantomime still has elements of the traditional Cinderella story. In this adaptation, Timmika Ramsay’s Cinderella is ostracised by her evil step-mum (Shobna Gulati) and her ugly sisters, Topsy and Popsy, played by Mairi Barclay and Lauren Samuels respectively. They are instead called the ‘snugly sisters’, two Instagram obsessed girls who believe that outer beauty represents inner beauty. Cinderella herself is a complete contrast. She is a star gazing scientist who wants to go to the ball, not because she wants to find love, but instead hopes to find a great star gazing spot away from the light pollution of the city. With the help of her best friend, Buttons (Jodie Jacobs) and the Fairy Fredbare (Rhys Taylor) who conjures up a magical dress for her to wear, Cinderella manages to go to the ball at the palace and meet Bob the Prince (Gabriel Fleary).

Bob the Prince, played by Gabriel Fleary, suffers from social anxiety, but has a loveable personality, fittingly singing a cover of Ed Sheeran’s ‘I don’t care’ when at the ball, presenting his discomfort with royal life. He meets Cinderella, falling in love with her intelligence and their shared fascination of the universe, but is unable to remember what she looks like because he has lost his glasses. There is also another blossoming romance on the side between the characters of Buttons and Popsy, who meet when they find themselves awkwardly on the dancefloor at the ball, not knowing what to do. A criticism of the romance between the two characters is that it does not have as much time to develop as that of the love between Cinderella and the Prince, but still has a good underlying message against conforming to heterosexist attitudes.

Among my favourite parts of the show was Fairy Fredbare’s railroad puns, testing the audience’s knowledge of London Underground stations. Another stand out moment throughout the production was the catchy song parodies of Stormzy’s ‘Vossi bop’ to ‘Flossy mop’. Other cleverly handpicked songs such as ‘Shut up and Dance’, ‘I don’t care’ and ‘Don’t stop me now’, all complemented the script perfectly.

The pantomime really takes off in Act Two, where the romance between the Prince and Cinderella starts to flourish. A notable moment in the production is following her marriage to the Prince, Cinderella stresses that she does not need to be a princess to be content with life. This is an extremely empowering message for young girls in the audience, depicting that they do not need a prince or a title to succeed in life and be a good person.

At the end of the show, Pride, Black Lives Matter, Extinction Rebellion and EU flags are flung around the stage. This presents a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere, demonstrating that no matter your political beliefs, or who you are, everyone is welcome at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith.

by Tara Bradbury